Stephen Arnold Music

The Most Heard, Least Known Composers In America

Byte Me!

As the most left-brained musician I know (and the most right-brained tech head), I’ve always approached music like a math problem and computer programming like songwriting.  It may seem a little odd, but for some reason it’s always worked for me.  So it’s only natural that here at SAM I’ve become the de facto IT department.  While it may not appear to be the most creative outlet, you’d be surprised.  Be it Flash programming or database design, I’m always having to come up with some new way to do something.  Sometimes, though, I miss just playing music.

So the other day when my workstation simply refused to boot and I had to begin the arduous task of reinstalling the OS & all my apps, restoring all my data from backup, and recreating all my preferences, I began to lament my inability to contribute anything musically to the company for the next day and a half.  During one of the many progress bar purgatories of the day, I picked up this month’s issue of Electronic Musician, and lo and behold, there was this article by renowned producer/engineer Nathaniel Kunkel:

Okay, it’s happened. Knowing about network protocols and their implementations is now as important as mic placement. “Crazy fool!” you say. Not this time, not this time.

My TC Electronic System 6000 will only run on a 192.168.1.x subnet. My Drobo hard drive connects with iSCSI to the second port on the Mac Pro tower, and I am running that network without any DHCP leasing. I need to forward UDP Ports 6000 through 6002 and TCP Ports 80 and 5222 to the machine that hosts my Source-Live broadcast. My Aviom uses a form of POE, and I regularly run my computer remotely from mastering sessions to print and deliver file changes to myself while I’m more than 100 miles away.

Does that sound much like dialing in a guitar tone on a Fairchild or getting a slamming drum sound? Not to me either, but without knowing how to do that other stuff, my sessions might not ever get off the ground in the first place. And I think we can all agree that some of the first luxuries to go during these hard times are unlimited tech visits . . .

And it suddenly dawned on me:  I’m not alone in the world!  Every engineer, musician & producer in today’s music industry has to deal with tech issues all the time now.  In order to be creative today you have to know more about computers than a top-level programmer knew twenty years ago.  And the amazing thing is, it just kind of . . . happened.  As computer technology has advanced, so has its usefulness to the music industry.  And the industry has just soaked it up.  Twenty years ago, a 1GB hard drive cost several thousand dollars, was the approximate size of a Yugo, and there was really no way to use it for creating music.

1GB Hard Drive

Yes, that's a 4GB SD card in that dude's hand.

Two months ago, I bought 4.5 TB (or 4500 GB !!!) of hard drive space on three hard drives, spent around three hundred bucks, and filled up half of it with BWAV files in a little under four hours.

The times, they are a’changin’, indeed.

So the next time you find yourself in IT Hell, do what I do:  When that seemingly-without-progress progress bar comes up, place your mouse over it as a marker, run to the nearest guitar, and strum a few chords.  When you come back, it may just be done . . . and you’ll definitely feel better.

One response to “Byte Me!

  1. Stephen November 23, 2009 at 8:04 pm

    OK Clay- is that really your hard drive from 20 years ago!!?? amazing- I think u need to build me a guitar!

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